Office of profit

An office of profit means a position that brings to the person holding it some financial gain, or advantage, or benefit. It may be an office or place of profit if it carries some remuneration, financial advantage, benefit etc.

It is a term used in a number of national constitutions to refer to executive appointments. A number of countries forbid members of the legislature from accepting an office of profit under the executive as a means to secure the independence of the legislature and preserve the separation of powers.

no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving as a member of the House of Commons;

In the United Kingdom, the principle has been eroded. The executive sits in the legislature, and from the nineteenth-century ministries were invariably led by Members of Parliament or Peers.

The rule survives in the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 which specifies a number of state positions that make an individual ineligible to serve as a Member of Parliament.

While these ancient posts have no responsibilities attached to them, they fulfill the requirements of the law and disqualify members from sitting in Parliament, enabling their retirement.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits a Member of Congress from being appointed to an executive office under two circumstances: if the executive office was created during that Member's term in Congress, or if the compensation for that executive office was increased during that Member's term in Congress (but see the Saxbe fix). The U.S. Constitution also prohibits an executive officer from being a Member of Congress. Specifically, Article I, Section 6, Clause 2 provides:

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

The U.S. Constitution does not define the term "office of profit." In fact, that term is not even used in the above-mentioned provision. However, the term "office of profit" is referred to in three other provisions.

First, a person who is convicted upon impeachment faces two restrictions: 1) Removal from office; and 2) Disqualification to hold an office honor, trust or profit. Specifically, Article I, section 3, clause 7 provides:

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Second, a person holding an office of trust, or an office of profit, is prohibited from receiving presents, emoluments, offices, or titles from foreign powers. Specifically, Article I, section 9, clause 8 provides:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.

Third, a person holding an office of trust, or an office of profit, is prohibited from serving as a presidential elector. Specifically, Article II, section 1, clause 2 provides:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.